Daily Health Policy Report

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Last updated: Tue, Jul 2

KHN Original Reporting & Guest Opinion

Health Reform


Health Care Marketplace

State Watch

Editorials and Opinions

KHN Original Reporting & Guest Opinion

Turning To The Web To Help Pay Medical Bills

Reporting for Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with The Washington Post, Caroline Mayer reports: "Even with Stage IV lung cancer, there are moments when 32-year-old Chip Kennett feels blessed. Over the course of two weeks in April, those moments were many, as 325 friends and family members contributed $56,800 over the Internet to help defray his out-of-pocket medical costs" (Mayer, 7/2). Read the story.

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Insuring Your Health: Income -- Not Assets -- Will Determine Subsidies In Online Insurance Marketplaces

Kaiser Health News' consumer columnist Michelle Andrews answers readers' questions about qualifying for help paying premiums under the health law and how student health plans will be treated (7/1). Read the column.

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Pennsylvania Among 17 States Turning Over High-Risk Insurance Pool Responsibility To Feds

WHYY's Elana Gordon, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "Pennsylvania and 16 other states are handing over their special insurance programs for people with pre-existing health conditions to the federal government Monday. Consumers enrolled in the so-called high-risk pool, PA Fair Care, have received letters telling them the transfer is automatic but that they may see 'changes to benefits, treatment plans, deductibles and access to provider networks'" (Gordon, 7/1). Read the story.

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Capsules: Iowa, South Dakota Blues Skip Obamacare Exchange Next Year; Study: Emergency Rooms Take Toll On Older Patients

Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Jay Hancock reports on news about the Blues in Iowa and South Dakota: "But on Monday Iowa and South Dakota became the second and third states in which there may be no Blues option when exchange consumers start shopping on Oct. 1. Citing concerns about its ability to deliver quality service as the marketplace ramps up, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield said it won't offer subsidized plans through those exchanges until 2015" (Hancock, 7/1).

Also on the blog, Kelsey Miller reports on a study about older patients in the emergency room: "The majority of older patients who go to emergency departments in several nations around the world are likely to start out with complex conditions that deteriorate after their visits, according to a study published in the June 25 issue of Annals of Emergency Medicine" (Miller, 7/1). Check out what else is on the blog.

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Political Cartoon: 'Airing Of Grievances?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Airing Of Grievances?" by Chip Bok, Akron Beacon Journal.

Meanwhile, here is today's health policy haiku:


Who's out? Who is in?
Health plans announce intentions
for marketplaces.

If you have a health policy haiku to share, please send it to us at http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/ContactUs.aspx and let us know if you want to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.

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Health Reform

Questions And Answers About Health Insurance Exchanges

The Associated Press reports the company operating call centers to help consumers navigate new online insurance marketplaces will add 120 jobs in eastern Iowa as part of a nationwide expansion. Other news outlets answer queries about the cost of insurance in those marketplaces, also called exchanges, which open for enrollment Oct. 1.

The Associated Press: Company Adds 120 Jobs For Health Care Law Help
A company that won the federal contract to help customers navigate the Affordable Care Act will add at least 120 jobs at an eastern Iowa call center as part of a nationwide expansion to support the law's implementation, its vice president said Monday (Foley, 7/1).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Q&A: Buying Your Own Health Insurance
People have lots of questions today about what will happen to the amount they pay for insurance this fall, when the federal health-care law's insurance marketplaces open, selling individual policies subject to the new requirements of the law. And we have answers (Radnofsky, 7/1).

Kaiser Health News: Income -- Not Assets -- Will Determine Subsidies In Online Insurance Marketplaces
KHN's consumer columnist Michelle Andrews answers readers' questions about how income and other assets will affect health insurance choices and responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act, and whether having access to a student health plan will make a person ineligible for subsidized coverage on the exchanges (Andrews, 7/2).

Fiscal Times: Healthy Consumers Will Pay More For Insurance
Healthy Americans may see their insurance rates double or triple under the new exchanges set up through Obamacare, while the new law will make health care more affordable for sick consumers, according to a new analysis of rates in eight states by The Wall Street Journal. The Journal says the exchanges aren’t likely going to offer the cut-rate policies healthy people can currently buy. At the same time, many sick consumers who previously faced astronomical premiums may see more affordable plans (Ehley, 7/1).

Los Angeles Times: NFL Punts On Obamacare As Officials Draw Up Enrollment Game Plan
The National Football League is taking a pass on promoting Obamacare. Federal and state officials across the country are looking to spread the word about enrollment starting in October for new health insurance exchanges under President Obama's Affordable Care Act (Terhune, 7/1).

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UnitedHealth To Leave California's Individual Market At Year's End

UnitedHealth is the second major company to announce its exit in advance of the changes that will take effect as a result of the health law. Meanwhile, Blues plans in Iowa and South Dakota announced plans to skip participation in those two states' health exchanges in 2014.

Los Angeles Times: UnitedHealth To Exit Individual Insurance Market In California
The nation's largest health insurer, UnitedHealth Group Inc., is leaving California's individual health insurance market, the second major company to exit in advance of major changes under the Affordable Care Act. UnitedHealth said it had notified state regulators that it would leave the state's individual market at year-end and force about 8,000 customers to find new coverage. Last month, Aetna Inc., the nation's third-largest health insurer, made a similar move affecting about 50,000 existing policyholders (Terhune, 7/2).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Iowa, South Dakota Blues Skip Obamacare Exchange Next Year
But on Monday Iowa and South Dakota became the second and third states in which there may be no Blues option when exchange consumers start shopping on Oct. 1. Citing concerns about its ability to deliver quality service as the marketplace ramps up, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield said it won't offer subsidized plans through those exchanges until 2015 (Hancock, 7/1).

Des Moines Register: Wellmark To Sit Out of Exchange Next Year
Iowans who check out the state's new online health insurance purchasing system this fall won't see any policies being offered by Iowa's dominant carrier, but they will see plans from several other companies. The state's main health insurer, Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield, said Monday that it will wait a year before selling policies on the state's new health insurance exchange (Leys, 7/1).

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Many Uninsured Don't Know They Must Buy Coverage Next Year

News outlets report on a poll finding that more than 40 percent of the uninsured are unaware they could be required to buy health coverage in 2014, while another study calculates how many young people are benefiting from the provision allowing adult children to stay on their parents' policies up to age 26.

The Hill: Poll: Many Uninsured Are Unaware Of Individual Mandate
More than 40 percent of uninsured Americans aren't aware that they could be required to buy coverage next year, according to a Gallup survey. Awareness of the law's individual mandate, which requires most taxpayers to buy insurance or pay a penalty, was lower among uninsured people than the general public (Baker, 7/1).

The Hill: Study: ObamaCare Rule Covering 930K Young Adults
More than 930,000 young adults have health insurance thanks to an ObamaCare rule making them eligible for coverage on their parents' plans, according to a new study. Researchers at Indiana University found that young adult men are twice as likely as their female peers to obtain health coverage through their parents (Viebeck, 7/1).

Meanwhile, the health law might be Detroit's lucky break, but not a good answer for uninsured people in states which don't pursue the Medicaid expansion -

Detroit Free Press: Obama's Affordable Care Act Could Lift a Financial Burden Off Detroit
As Detroit confronts a possible municipal bankruptcy, the forthcoming rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care law could be the city’s lucky break. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has proposed moving younger retired city workers who do not yet qualify for Medicare out of their city-sponsored health plans and into the new federal system, which takes full effect Jan. 1 (Reindl and Erb, 7/2).

The Associated Press: Big Medicaid Gap Looms In Obama Health Care Law
Nearly 2 in 3 uninsured low-income people who would qualify for subsidized coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law may be out of luck next year because their states have not expanded Medicaid. An Associated Press analysis of figures from the Urban Institute finds a big coverage gap developing, with 9.7 million out of 15 million potentially eligible adults living in states that are refusing the expansion or are still undecided with time running short (Alonso-Zaldivar, 7/1).

In Pennsylvania -

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pa. House Strips Medicaid Expansion From Bill
The House of Representatives on Monday stripped from a budget-related bill a proposal to expand Medicaid eligibility, returning the legislation to a Senate that had easily approved the health care provision. It was unclear how the Senate would address the change (Langley, 7/2).

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IG Report: $543 Million In Medicare Overpayments Remain Uncollected

USA Today reports that the inspector general's report noted that one of the factors keeping the government from recouping these funds was problems with a new accounting system. Meanwhile, Modern Healthcare reports that these types of overpayments are some of the most difficult to collect. 

USA Today: Accounting Woes Hurt Medicare's Tries To Get Lost Money
The Medicare system may never collect more than $543 million in overpayments made in 2010, a federal inspector general's report released Tuesday shows, because Medicare entered only a summary of each bill in its new system. The new accounting system for the Center for Medicare Services (CMS) and systems used by Medicare contractors did not extract data automatically, the report said, so information about providers and contractors was lost. Medicare officials, the report said, determined it would require thousands of hours to re-enter data on health care providers into the new system (Kennedy, 7/2).

Modern Healthcare: $543M In Illegitimate Medicare Claims Uncollected By CMS, Report Says
CMS classified $543 million as "currently not collectible" (CNC) debt, which includes Medicare overpayments made to bankrupt, hard-to-find and out-of-business providers, according to a report out today from HHS' inspector general's Office of Evaluation and Inspections. CMS officials say these are some of the most difficult types of overpayments to collect. All told, CMS identified $9.6 billion in Medicare overpayments to healthcare providers in 2010, and got most of that back (Carlson, 7/2).

In other Medicare news -

ProPublica: A Rap Sheet For Medicare's Prescription Drug Program
A lot has happened since our investigation in May showed that Medicare wasn't watching out for dangerous or fraudulent prescribing by doctors and others in its popular prescription drug program (Weber, Ornstein and LaFleur, 7/1).

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Health Care Marketplace

Long-Term Care Insurance: Industry Is Shrinking; Premiums Are Rising

The Wall Street Journal: Long-Term-Care Insurance Leaves Customers Groping
Rob and Katherine Deane thought they were being responsible by buying insurance policies to provide for care in their later years. Instead, the Michigan couple are encountering a growing gap in health-care coverage that the government overhaul will do nothing to fix (Greene and Scism, 7/1).

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State Watch

Texas Protesters, Lawmakers Ready For Committee Clashes On Abortion Bill

Protesters and lawmakers gird for a new day of debate on Texas' proposal to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy as well as enact regulations some activists say will shutter all but a few of the state's abortion clinics.

Politico: Texas Abortion Drama Set To Resume
When it comes to abortion politics, it could be a long, hot summer. In Texas, things heated up on Monday with a pro-abortion rights rally on the steps of the state Capitol and are expected to reach scorching temperatures on Tuesday, when members of the public will have the opportunity to sound off for hours before a Texas legislative committee over a bill that would effectively close nearly every abortion clinic in the state as a result of stricter regulations and ban the procedure after 20 weeks (Glueck, 7/1).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Texas' Abortion Fight Begins Anew As Lawmakers Convene 2nd Special Session, Recess For Week
State troopers lined the halls of the Texas Capitol, and 5,000 protesters rallied outside against proposed abortion legislation, as lawmakers convened Monday for a second special session that Republican leaders pledged wouldn't descend into chaos like the first. The Texas House and Senate each met for less than an hour before recessing for the week. That was just long enough to schedule new committee hearings for the proposed restrictions that would make Texas one of the toughest places in the nation for women to get abortions (7/1).

Dallas Morning News: Thousands Of Texans Urge Lawmakers To Give Up On Abortion Bill
Thousands of abortion-rights supporters greeted lawmakers as they convened another special session Monday to take up a list of hotly debated abortion restrictions, with Republicans vowing to move quickly to enact legislation derailed last week. A rally in front of the Capitol featured Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. She became a national hero to women's rights groups last week when her filibuster helped halt the abortion bill despite solid GOP majority support in the House and Senate (Stutz and Martin, 7/1).

ABC News: Texas Abortion Ban Limits More Than Abortions
Republican lawmakers in Texas are hell-bent on passing a bill that will eliminate nearly every abortion clinic in the state. They're probably going to succeed. The filibuster tactic that thwarted their June attempt at the last minute is unlikely to work in July's special legislative session, because lawmakers have another month to pass the law -- and this time around, they've placed it at the top of their agenda (Deruy, 7/1).

ABC News: 5 Things To Watch As Texas Lawmakers Debate Anti-Abortion Bill Again
For Democrats in Texas hoping to prevent an anti-abortion bill a second time from passing through the state legislature, time will be both an enemy and a friend. Republicans now have a second special legislative session devoted almost exclusively to passing a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and impose regulations that would shutter all but six abortion clinics in the state, giving them plenty of time to overcome Democratic objections to the bill. But they can also count on Democrats to make those days as painful for them as possible (Phillip, 7/2).

In other news -

MPR News: Number Of Abortions In Minnesota Lower Each Year
The number of abortions performed in Minnesota each year continues to drop. A report released Monday from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that the number of abortions performed in Minnesota dropped from just over 11,000 in 2011 to about 10,700 in 2012, a decrease of three percent. Data show the number of abortions has dropped consistently over a six-year period. Opponents abortion and proponents of abortion rights are hailing the report (Williams, 7/1).

Des Moines Register: Brandstad Supports Ban On 'Webcam Abortion'
Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday he supports banning the dispensing of abortion medication via telemedicine. The Iowa Board of Medicine voted last Friday to initiate the rulemaking process to ban health care providers from examining patients via video-conferencing technology and remotely dispensing abortion-inducing drugs (Noble, 7/1).

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Health Care Fueled Economic Recovery, Study Says

The health care industry played a large role in helping the nation recover from the long recession, a new Brookings Institution study said Monday. The industry now accounts for more jobs than it did before the recession.

The Baltimore Sun: Health Care Provides More Jobs Than A Decade Ago, Report Says
Health care now accounts for a bigger share of jobs than before the recession in all major metro areas, including Baltimore, the Brookings Institution said Monday. A report focused on health care employment shows the industry now plays a larger role in regional economies, with the number of health care jobs up nearly 23 percent to 14.5 million between the first quarter of 2003 and the first quarter of this year (Mirabella, 7/1).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Study: Health Care Industry Helps Drive U.S. Economic Recovery
The health care industry has played an outsized role in the nation’s economic recovery and is fueling rapid job growth in the Twin Cities and the nation, according to a report released Monday by the Brookings Institution. Jobs in the health care field now account for more than one in 10 jobs on average among the nation's largest 100 metropolitan areas, outstripping overall employment growth by a wide margin (Crosby, 7/1).

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States Consider New Mental Health Care Services, Parity For Seniors, Prisoners

State leaders in Oregon, North Carolina and California consider new legislation or studies on what better mental health care for their residents could mean for quality of life and health care costs.

The Lund Report: Momentum Builds To Increase Mental Health And Addiction Services For Seniors
Advocates for the elderly and disabled believe they scored an important victory this legislative session that will pave the way toward creating new mental health and addiction services for an increasingly aging population. They succeeded in having a "budget note"-- something written into an agency budget that directs state agencies to take specific actions, reforms or generate reports that might inform future legislation and policy -- included in the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Human Services budgets, which are expected to be approved by the Legislature later this week (Waldroupe, 7/2).

North Carolina Health News: NC State Study Shows Why It Costs Less To Treat Mentally Ill Than Incarcerate Them
Many people with mental health problems end up in prison or jail when access to community-based treatment could have helped avoid incarceration. New research shows how that approach wastes money (Hoban, 7/1).

California Healthline: Senate Talks Address Mental Health Parity
Mental health parity may be the new law, several legislators said last week at a Senate hearing on the subject -- but the tricky part of the law, they said, is enforcing it. The Senate mental health parity hearing continues today, convening in the Capitol Building with former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy addressing the Senate Select Committee on Mental Health. Just because new state and federal laws call for mental health to be covered along with physical health, that doesn't mean equal coverage will just happen, said Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) at Friday's hearing (Gorn, 7/1).

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State Highlights: Dartmouth Joins N.H. Medicaid Managed Care

A selection of health policy stories from New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Illinois and California.

The Associated Press: Dartmouth Signs Onto NH Medicaid Managed Care
New Hampshire's largest health care provider signed contracts Monday with three health care plans to join the state's managed care network for Medicaid -- a key to getting the network operating. Dartmouth-Hitchcock announced it will work with Well Sense Health Plan, Granite State Health Plan and Meridian Health Plan of New Hampshire to provide coordinated care for eligible Medicaid beneficiaries (Love, 7/1).

Oregonian: Oregon Health Policy Board To Meet Tuesday, Consider New Reforms
The Oregon Health Policy Board will meet Tuesday in Portland to consider, among other things, a process to prepare additional health reforms that will be proposed to the Legislature next year, potentially affecting people who buy commercial insurance as well as teachers and state employees. The plan is being developed in response to a request from Gov. John Kitzhaber. In a June 3 letter, he asked the policy board to develop recommendations that will shift reforms already underway in the Oregon Health Plan to other types of insurance, including that offered by the Public Employees Benefit Board, the Oregon Educators Benefit Board, and policies sold in Cover Oregon, the state's insurance exchange (Budnick, 7/1).

The Lund Report: House Passes Bill To Study Universal Health Care In Oregon
The House passed a universal healthcare study bill 37-23, clearing the way for private money to fund a comprehensive study into what advocates consider the most equitable and cost-effective means of financing health care for all Oregonians. "We need to take a better look at financing different healthcare systems in this state," Rep. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, told his House colleagues Friday (Gray, 7/1).

Kaiser Health News: Pennsylvania Among 17 States Turning Over High-Risk Insurance Pool Responsibility To Feds
Pennsylvania and 16 other states are handing over their special insurance programs for people with pre-existing health conditions to the federal government Monday. Consumers enrolled in the so-called high-risk pool, PA Fair Care, have received letters telling them the transfer is automatic but that they may see "changes to benefits, treatment plans, deductibles and access to provider networks" (Gordon, 7/1).

The Lund Report: Autism Bill Sails Through Legislature Without Opposition
The House and the Senate have unanimously approved the landmark autism bill that Sen. Alan Bates, D-Medford, ushered toward a consensus agreement between child advocates and health insurance companies. The bill paves the way for all public and private health plans to cover applied behavioral analysis over the next three years (Gray, 7/1).

The Denver Post: Colorado's New VA Hospital Will Be Pricier Than Planned
The $800 million regional VA hospital under construction in Aurora will be later than promised and likely over budget again, according to members of Congress who asked for an extraordinary briefing on the project. While Veterans Affairs construction officials have been promising a spring 2015 opening date for their Rocky Mountain showcase hospital, the builder is saying June 2016, said U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colorado (Booth, 7/2).

Oregonian: Not Enough Tobacco Settlement Money Dedicated To Anti-Smoking Programs, Public Health Advocates Say
For the first time since the money started flowing, some of the $120 million Oregon receives every two years as part of a settlement with large tobacco companies is expected go toward anti-smoking programs. But the amount -- $4 million -- is far short of the $86 million public health advocates say is needed to adequately fund a strong anti-smoking campaign. This spring, they lobbied lawmakers, created a website and ran a radio ad asking for at least $12 million for anti-tobacco programs (Zheng, 7/1). 

Chicago Sun-Times: Sacred Heart Hospital Closes After Execs Charged In Kickback Scheme
Sacred Heart Hospital, which recently came under a federal microscope for medical fraud that included charges of performing unnecessary tracheotomies, abruptly closed Monday. After hearing the news Monday, the Illinois Department of Public Health moved quickly to ensure patient safety at the hospital (Dudek, 7/1).

California Healthline: Green House Grows New Model Of Care
When California's first Green House Project opens this summer at the senior community of Mt. San Antonio Gardens, it will represent four years of effort in search of a better way to age. The facility -- dubbed Evergreen Villas -- is on the border of the college towns Pomona and Claremont. Green House Project founder Bill Thomas, a physician and eldercare expert, said Green House is an "intentional community" -- a "culture change" that reconfigures operations and environments, offering person-centered care that focuses on relationships and people. … Green House facilities are self-contained residential environments designed around what proponents call "warm, smart and green" elements (Stephens, 7/1).

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Editorials and Opinions

Viewpoints: Dems' Abortion Policies On The Wrong Side Of Public Opinion; Doctors Need To Be More Accurate In Death Reports

The New York Times: The Contraception Battle
Last week saw two major developments in the legal and political battle over the Obama administration's sound decision to require most employers to provide free insurance coverage of contraceptives for women under the new health care law — one of them positive and the other a blow to the mandate and to religious liberty (7/1).

Bloomberg: Wendy Davis Offers A Warning For Democrats
[Texas state Sen. Wendy] Davis's activism illuminates a larger shift in the politics of abortion, and it poses risks that Democrats are underestimating. ... This time, Republicans actually have a response: legislation that highlights how pro-choice Democrats are out of step with the public. Most Americans think abortion should be legal in cases of rape, but they also think it should be illegal in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy (Ramesh Ponnuru, 7/1).

The New York Times: Making The Right Call, Even In Death
It is one of a doctor's most important final acts in caring for a patient, even though the patient is no longer around to appreciate it. I refer, of course, to filling out the death certificate, a document that has myriad benefits for the living: establishing a legal basis for life insurance and estate settlements; providing critical information to survivors and descendants in an era of burgeoning advances in genetics; advancing knowledge about diseases, accidents and other causes of death; and much else. For all these reasons, the accuracy of the certificates should be a paramount concern for public health, both nationally and internationally. And that is why two recent studies of doctors in New York City teaching hospitals are so unsettling (Dr. Lawrence K. Altman, 7/1).

Los Angeles Times: U.S. Health System Has Flaws, But Not In Quality Of Care
The healthcare system, like the government, is easy to criticize until you need it. And then it's indispensable. I've devoted my fair share of ink and digital bits to talking about what's wrong with healthcare in the United States. I wrote last week about yet another example of loony billing practices. Today, let's appreciate some of the things that make our system extraordinary — maybe not the best in the world, as conservatives are fond of gushing, but pretty darn impressive (David Lazarus, 7/2).

Los Angeles Times: Why The NFL And NBA Should Help Promote Obamacare
Leading congressional Republicans are trying to stop professional sports leagues from encouraging Americans without health insurance to sign up for coverage. Why? Because that would further entrench a law -- the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare -- they're still trying to repeal. Granted, I support the Affordable Care Act, as flawed as it may be. But the GOP's actions still strike me as cutting off one's constituents to spite the president (Jon Healey, 7/1).

The Washington Post: Post Partisan Blog: Democrats Are Trying To Suppress The Confusion And Hide The Cost Of ObamaCare
I don't know if Members of Congress will be hearing about it in town hall gatherings and other meetings back home over the Fourth of July recess, but the rolling thunder of the approaching ObamaCare train can be heard in the distance. Smart Democrats are beginning to get frantic about the need to suppress the confusion and hide the cost of ObamaCare between now and the 2014 midterm elections. We are just three months away from the October 1st enrollment start date and so far, nothing about the ObamaCare implementation process should be politically encouraging for Democrats. In fact, the more people learn about ObamaCare, the more frightened they become (Ed Rogers, 7/1).

The Detroit News: Medicaid Expansion Helpful, Timely
Michigan Senate Republicans have belatedly formed a committee to study expanding Medicaid. Gov. Rick Snyder asked for the expansion many months ago, and the House recently passed a bill that expands Medicaid with certain provisions that must be approved by the federal government. The arguments in favor of expansion are strong (Richard Teets, 7/2).

American Journal Of Nursing: Women And Health Insurance: Whose Interests Are Covered?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) redressed some of the longstanding inequities in women's health care by requiring that certain preventive services such as mammography and screening for gestational diabetes be made available to all women, free of charge. But one of those services, contraception, generated unprecedented controversy: according to the Sunlight Foundation, 147,000 public comments have been logged on both sides of the debate over whether the government should mandate such coverage, especially of religious institutions that object on moral grounds. A proposed rule clarifying the criteria for religious exemption will be finalized by August (Joy Jacobson, 7/2013).

The Wall Street Journal: Pot-Smoking And The Schizophrenia Connection
Recent legislation has permitted the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington state. Those who support legalization often tout the lack of serious medical consequences associated with the drug. Most of us know people who used marijuana in high school or college and seem to have suffered no significant medical consequences. As the medical and scientific literature continues to accumulate, however, it is becoming clearer that the claim that marijuana is medically harmless is false (Samuel T. Wilkinson, 7/1). 

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Stephanie Stapleton

Andrew Villegas

Lisa Gillespie
Shefali Luthra

The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2014 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.